As a Writers I Consider OneNote My Most Important Tool, and You Should Too.

Photo by Frederick Medina on Unsplash

With the OneNote application, I can “Collect Once Read Many Times on Many Devices”

The collection opportunities comprise typing, talk to text, scan, grab a screenshot, take a photo, draw, or grab sound, there might be other things I’m forgetting.

This article is not a how-to but why I use OneNote and why you as a writer should use OneNote too.

“Give a lazy man a hard job and he will find an easy way to do it.” -unknown

I’m lazy and want to maximize what I do with my time. I like to have stuff organized and have ready access to information, sometimes by searching.

The OneNote application/app works on all platforms Android, Apple, Microsoft.

You can access your OneNote notebooks from your desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets. Sharing an entire notebook, or a section or page with others is possible.

Analog Notebook Experience

Over many years, I have tried every version of analog notes and books. I’ve tried every system. I’ve even tried analog notebooks with digital pens. I’ve also tried digital notebooks that required software to guess what you were writing.

I liked the analog version of notebooks, used them for years. Keep them with me whenever I go to meetings, events, off by myself to think and write, etc.

From my analog experience with notebooks, I ended up being frustrated, disappointed, and not happy.

Another reason is they lacked the ability to search for information and move thoughts or pieces of information from one place or notebook to another page, section, or an entirely different notebook.

The one thing that changed my mind was the times I misplaced them, and there were many, and then the agony of calling around or sending out an email blast, “Did you find my Black N Red notebook?”

Digital Notebook Experience

My early attempt at digital devices and notebooks meant I’d try almost any invention that did not have a hefty price tag.

  • The Rocket Book Wave– You wrote on a special notebook page and then had an app on your phone that you would take a picture and the software would attempt to figure what the heck you might be writing. They only came close, but not close enough to convince me to stick with them.

End Result: I donated the goods to someone else

  • The Digital Pen– These you wrote on special paper and then plugged in the pen to a USB port. Again software tried to figure out what you were attempting to say and where punctuation should be. Close again, not that I kept that setup either.

End Result: Donated it to another

I’ve tried phone software that would scan a business card and create a database.

In early 2000, companies were making notebook type software. Apple Notes, Lotus Notes, others like Evernote, ZoHo also had one and Google with Keep. None of them worked the way I wanted notebook software to work. I wanted it to work as an analog notebook, but with the ability to make corrections, move pages around into other sections, and other notebooks if I wanted to.

I have tried all the other options that were available and still today nothing compares, OneNote!!

When I tried to replace OneNote with another online application, none had these features of OneNote that were most important to me, including the then-popular Evernote. One piece of software may today have the feature, but I’m not interested in converting any of my OneNote Notebooks.

OneNote Digital Experience

I started using OneNote in 2007 every now and then as I was experimenting. By the time the 2010 version came out, I ramped up my use of the program to the point I started putting every one of my crazy ideas into one note.

There are those times that I start writing an article and decide to search in OneNote and frequently find similar thoughts in OneNote that I put there days, months, and even years before.

There is no way I could search my old notebooks.

I journal in OneNote almost daily. It is the first thing I do in the morning, and every time I think of writing ideas. Sometimes, I use paper and pencil, and then most of the time transcribe them into OneNote.

I use OneNote on my phone to write notes. I also take photos of things I want to comment on later. Then I can access this information on my desktop, or the web version of OneNote

Business cards are a thing of the past for me, I now scan them into my business card section in OneNote.

I can sit at my desktop computer, review notes, and add comments.

I am now writing this article in OneNote from the notes and thoughts I’ve collected over several months.

OneNote File Structure and Access

Notebooks are files, so you can have several notebooks. You can share online notebooks with others who have a Microsoft account. We cannot share desktop Notebooks. The desktop application can open and edit an online notebook. That online notebook is accessible from your phone, tablet, and browser.

The notebooks contain Sections, Section Groups, and Pages for the organization’s structure.

Pages contain content and can be in the root folder, in sections, or section groups. This one feature was the most important to me because I can have virtually unlimited pages within a section and even a group of sections. Another feature that I like is the ability to either copy or move pages from one section or another section. You can even copy or move pages to another OneNote Notebook

Section and Section Group provide a way to organize pages in the OneNote file.

My OneNote Configuration Today

Today, I have OneNote installed on my Windows 10 15 inch laptop that’s docked and connected to a 32-inch monitor, a 10.1 tablet, and my phone. Today I mostly use my desktop for collection and editing. I use my phone for collecting pictures, thoughts by sometimes the talk to text feature, and referencing previous notes and thoughts.

These devices have access to the same OneNote Notebook file. I have several notebooks, one that is the main file I use most of the time. I share two of the other notebooks out with others. I have several archive notebooks that have old information or copies of sections I want to go back to look at original material.

I from time to time on my desktop create new Notebooks and copy large chunks from my daily working Notebook to an Archive Notebook. All of this goes up on my OneDrive.

I just read the Microsoft Product Lifecycle page and the extended support date for OneNote 2016 is 10/14/2025, so I’m good for 5 years. A lot can happen in 5 plus years.

Originally published at http://rs2021.eightysixhundred.com/blog.

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